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COP21 Wraps Up, Saudi Women Candidates, Kiwi Flag

COP21 WRAPS UP, TALKS CONTINUE

The COP21 climate change conference in Paris will close later today without a deal, though French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said negotiations would continue into the weekend and that a final agreement would probably be adopted tomorrow, Le Monde reports. After almost two weeks of intense talks, a few roadblocks remain, including on the temperature rise limit and funding for the world's least developed countries.


SYRIA REBELS AGREE TO ASSAD TALKS

Syrian opposition and rebel groups gathered in Riyadh have agreed to participate in UN-sponsored talks with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though they insist on his resignation, Al Jazeera reports. Terror groups ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are notably not attending the summit in Riyadh. The UN-backed meeting between rebel groups and the Syrian government could take place in early January.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

More and more universities around the world offer so-called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). But with top Munich universities using the online education provider Coursera, doubts are growing over security and the selling of customer data, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. "When you digitalize learning, it also means that an awful lot of information is generated. But it is not only the students who can access outside information. Companies such as Coursera, which make the course materials available online and look after the students, also get access to a lot of information about their users. Which students study what? Who studies how much? Who studies fast and who studies slowly? What are the individual student's talents? Who is failing a course? This data is sensitive, but also quite useful from Coursera's point of view. While Coursera earns money from students signing up to their courses, they also have the possibility to sell the student's data: to prospective employers, for example, who want to know how the applicant did during the course."

Read the full article, MOOCs And Privacy, German Fears About Online Student Data.


MOST-WANTED RWANDA MAN ARRESTED

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, a former Rwandan mayor accused of being involved in the massacre of 20,000 Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, was arrested this week in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, The New York Times reports. Rwanda has requested that Ntaganzwa stand trial there. He's accused of crimes against humanity, including genocide and rape. Eight other figures who are also believed to have perpetrated the genocide that killed between 800,000 and 1 million people are still on the run.


MACRI SWORN IN

"I want to be the president of a united Argentina," Argentina's oldest daily La Capital quotes the country's new leader Mauricio Macri as saying today, a day after he was sworn in as president.

Read more from Le Blog.


YEMEN SCHOOLS BOMBED

About 34% of Yemeni children haven't been able to attend school since the beginning of a Saudi-led offensive against Houthi rebels, an Amnesty International report says, citing fears of airstrikes and damage inflicted by bombings since March. The strikes "have not only killed and injured civilians and destroyed civilian property but have a grave and far-reaching impact on access to health care, the delivery of humanitarian aid, on children's education, and on the ability of civilians to provide for their families," the NGO writes, expressing concern for the lack of investigation from both the Saudi coalition and the officially recognized Yemeni government into the illegal targeting of school buildings.


ON THIS DAY


As the Paris COP21 wraps up, today is the 18th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That and more in your 57-second shot of history.


FIRST WOMEN RUN IN SAUDI ELECTIONS

About 900 Saudi Arabian women are preparing for tomorrow's local elections, the first nationwide poll in which women have been allowed to run. "I'm doing this for my daughters," one of the candidates told The Independent. "They are witnessing a new way to be a Saudi woman." But there are still many prohibitions on Saudi women, among them driving.


$1.76 MILLION

Photo: Dennis Van Tine/UPPA/ZUMA

Janis Joplin's psychedelic 1964 Porsche 356 was sold yesterday at RM Sotheby's for $1.76 million, three times more than the most hopeful expectation.


REVISED HAJJ STAMPEDE DEATH TOLL

At least 2,411 Muslim pilgrims died in the September stampede during the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according to new data revealed by AP. The figures are three times higher than what the kingdom's authorities have acknowledged. Iran was the worst-hit country, with 464 pilgrims killed.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



ALTERNATIVE KIWI FLAG

New Zealanders have chosen a mash-up of their current flag and of their national rugby team symbol as the best alternative to replace a national flag that some believe is too similar to that of neighboring Australia, the New Zealand Herald reports. But more than half of the population didn't participate in the controversial vote, which has been criticized for its cost and timing. The final decision will be made in March.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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